When you think about your children’s future, you imagine great things. You want them to be healthy and thriving. You want to help them avoid poor outcomes while striving to meet their goals and living a happy life
Unfortunately, your ability to directly control what your kids eat, drink, watch, and more, is limited. Once they grow up and are adults, everything is entirely in their hands. What can you do to instill the values and education in your children that will allow them to live a healthy life?
The younger your child is, the easier it is to lay a foundation of healthy thinking and activity
. Help them understand, in simple terms, why certain choices are essential. You can talk about how good food helps them grow up and be healthy and about how choosing to be grateful helps them be happier.
Younger children are more impressionable and more likely to follow your lead, so don’t miss the opportunity if you have it. Start as soon as possible with reinforcing healthy living. However, if you have older children, you haven’t missed out. You can teach healthy habits at any age.
Think About What Changes You Want to Emphasize
It’s common to want to make dozens of changes at once and follow through on each of them perfectly. However, that never works — not for adults and not for kids. Making too many changes at once is overwhelming, and we end up going back to our old habits. That’s why most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by January 19th!
The best way to make healthy changes
is to start small and focus on developing habits. Teeth brushing is an excellent habit that anyone can practice, and it makes a big difference in overall health. You can also help your children develop the daily habits of drinking water when they wake up and getting in some fun movement every day.
One idea for making change accessible and fun is to create a monthly challenge. Make it into a game and help everyone in the family focus on a single healthy habit for 30 days. Your kids will love it, and it will lay an excellent foundation for the future.
Make Healthy Choices Fun
Kids love to have fun, and when you make healthy living enjoyable, they’re much more likely to follow through. On top of that, they’ll carry the understanding throughout their life that being healthy doesn’t have to be hard or heavy. It can be fun!
Even as adults, we don’t enjoy doing things that are hard, difficult, or demanding. Start sharing with your kids — and yourself — that exercise can be exciting, eating well can be delicious, and staying centered is well worth the time.
Have a family dance party to stay active, practice calming daily habits together, and use meals as a time to recount what everyone is grateful for
. Your kids will enjoy the process — and so will you!
Encourage a Growth Mindset
Dr. Carol Dweck’s mindset research changed education and impacted a lot of people of all ages. She found that students who did better in school had respect for effort and believed they could grow through failure. Although highly intelligent, others struggled because they thought their intelligence was set, and failure meant they weren’t smart after all.
The first group has a growth mindset, and the second has a fixed mindset. Diving into these philosophies takes some time, but the bottom line is that you want to encourage your children to have a growth mindset.
You can do this by praising effort rather than outcome, letting your kids know that their brains can get stronger and smarter over time, and encouraging a healthy attitude toward failure. Some of this requires you to do your own mindset work and move toward a growth mindset as well. After all, if you don’t believe what you’re saying, your kids won’t either.
Practice What You Preach
The biggest obstacle to children developing healthy habits is often that the adults in the home don’t practice them either. It’s hard to convince kids to get daily exercise if you’re not active, or to avoid drinking soda if you consume several each day.
Children learn much more from what they observe than what you say. When your words and actions are aligned, you’ll be setting an example they can’t ignore. When you lead the way, you can teach healthy habits to your kids no matter how old they are
Leading by example may be one of the most difficult challenges of parenting, but it’s also the most rewarding. Not only will you see your kids adopt healthy actions, but you’ll see positive changes in your own life as well!
Teaching healthy habits is a long-term process, and it’s important not to give up. When you follow these tips, you’ll find your kids absorb much more than you realize, even if they complain about it in the moment.
When they’re adults, you’ll have the joy of watching these long-taught habits remain a daily part of their lives — and be passed down to their own children! Building a healthy legacy starts today.